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Bushland Holds Off Late Canadian Rally

Michael Schumacher/Amarillo Globe News

photo:Michael Schumacher/Amarillo Globe News

Bushland Holds Off Late Canadian Rally for a 38-35 Victory After Weather Delay

It should first be noted that any headlines using a phrase similar to “Bushland Stuns Canadian”,  would be an insult to Bushland.  The Bushland Falcons were never considered to be woefully out classed or a hopeless underdog by the Canadian Wildcats program even though Harris picked the Wildcats by 17. (LSG's Michael Wright had Canadian as only a 1 point favorite) As a matter of fact, the Falcons fielded at least 8 more returning starters from last season’s team than did Canadian. That experience with the added emotion and momentum the Falcons generated was key to the victory over the Wildcats on a Friday night filled with storylines.

Flat Tires

Offensive Line Coach Hayden Merket mentioned that in 28 years of driving team buses this was his first flat tire between Miami and Pampa. Canadian ISD Transportation Director Schaffer Baxter and others (including Canadian Record Sports Editor Peyton Aufill and his wife Kimberly, who hauled excess equipment in their pickup truck) hustled to get the Wildcats moving on down the road within an hour. Extra time lost, but arriving to prepare for the scheduled 7:00 p.m. kickoff was not in jeopardy. Storyline #1 down.

Winning Streak Spoiled

Then there was the Canadian win streak watch, which also intersected with the no win record Bushland had versus the Wildcats. The Falcons not only got their first win over Canadian in the current five game series, they became the spoilers of a 31-0 win-streak record that Canadian will continue to share with the Wheeler Mustangs, the two longest in Panhandle area history. Storyline #2 down.

Weather Delays

You could dub them the Rain Dance teams. How many teams that have played five times can say two out of the five games suffered weather delays longer than two hours in length? The first weather delay was in Canadian on 9/2/2013. After a 2+ hour delay, play resumed until the weather forced the game to be cancelled with no official win or loss, Canadian led 14-0. This year’s game saw the two teams perform their rain dance once again, causing a delay at the 7:28 mark in the 3rd quarter to be resumed at 11:00 p.m. with weather good enough to complete the game. The series now stands at 3-1-1, Canadian. Storyline #3 down.

The Game Must Go On

The first offensive series of the game by Bushland looked at first to possibly be a struggle against a young, but tough Wildcat defensive squad reloaded from last season. A miss-handled high shotgun snap gave the Falcons a 7-yard loss and the call with 2nd and long produced zero yardage. But the 3rd play of the game stung Canadian with an 83-yard TD pass from QB Colton Moore to WR Chance Wood and changed their prospects of success quickly.

But the newest version of the Canadian offense, once dubbed “Air Canada” by a Fox Sports Southwest reporter, went to work on a 20-0 run that highlighted a perfectly executed strong-side power sweep fake that allowed Holton Hufstedler at TE to slip out into a wide open route for a 61-yard TD pass from QB Corbin Douthitt. But the drive that the Wildcats had to settle for the 37-yard FG kicked by Douthitt would prove to be a fatal flaw in Canadian’s score on the board at the end of the game.

The momentum shifted almost as quickly in Bushland’s favor in the second quarter as when the Wildcat’s got tapped off in the first to make it 20-7. With some sound passing and tough running from Falcon QB Moore, the Falcons went in at the half with a 24-20 lead with the help of two crucial turnovers by Canadian, a fumble by QB Douthitt that Bushland converted to a field goal and an INT by the Falcon’s Bishop Parson intended for Wildcat RB Chris Jones on their own 7-yard line.

The Falcons opened up the halftime lead 31-20 with 7:28 left in the 3rd quarter on a 75-yard pass-and-catch to WR Gage Climer from QB Moore. Almost on cue, the officials declared a 30-minute lightning delay at 8:50 p.m. that eventually lasted until 11:00 p.m. when play resumed.

Bushland kicked off to Canadian after the delay to begin an eerily familiar version of Midnight Madness between the two teams. The remaining minutes of the 3rd quarter saw Canadian sustain a drive with a 4th down and 2 conversion by RB Holton Hufstedler, a 4th and 2 conversion denied Bushland by the Wildcat defense, and an INT thrown by Canadian QB Douthitt with the score frozen at 31-20 until 10:01 left in the 4th quarter. That’s when Douthitt found a seam and scored on a keeper from the Falcon 27-yard line. The extra point team shifted into a wildcat formation and ran Hufstedler through a hole for the 2-point conversion, cutting Bushland’s lead to 3, 31-28.

The Falcons wasted no time with their next possession by scoring on a 62-yard bomb from Moore to Climer making it 38-28 with 7:32 left in the game. Needing 2 scores, Canadian rallied once more by marching the ball down to the Bushland 23-yard line with big runs by RB Chris Jones and QB Douthitt. With receivers on routes from the 23, Douthitt eyed a seam he chose to scramble through, even using a spin move on the 7-yard line going on in for the score, keeping Canadian alive with 6:18 left in the game, down by 3.

The remaining minutes of the game became an exciting defensive struggle with Canadian forcing Bushland to a 3-and-out, then the Falcons denying Canadian a second 4th down conversion with an opportunity to run out the clock or score, sealing Canadian’s fate. However, Canadian held once again giving themselves a chance to take the lead or tie with a field goal after Falcon WR Bishop Parson dropped a pass in the end zone. With 2 minutes left in the game, the Wildcats started on their own 20-yard line, moving to the Bushland 48 before Douthitt was sacked twice to give the Falcons possession on downs with 43 seconds left; QB Moore then took a knee once to end the game.

Bushland’s Moore looks very confident and adds great athleticism to lead the Bushland offense this season ending this contest with 322 yards passing and 77 yards rushing and one TD. Canadian’s Douthitt had 246 yards passing and rushed for 121 yards and two TDs, having had better outings with his passing game. The opposing running backs fared well, as Bostyn Andrews picked up 80 yards on 12 carries and Chris Jones contributed 108 yards on 16 carries. Canadian finished with 481 total offense, 246 passing and 235 rushing to Bushland’s 480 yards, 322 passing and 158 rushing.
Bushland’s early season confidence will come in handy when facing Amarillo Caprock next Thursday at Dick Bivins Stadium and Canadian makes a back-to-back road trip to the metro area to take on River Road, both scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.

Jerry Brunson for Lone Star Gridiron

Photos by Michael Schumacher/Amarillo Globe News

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